Saturday, May 31, 2014

Everyone is travelling

I am beginning to experience the phenomenon of feeling like your life is sub-par via facebook. Usually this is true for people in their 20s, watching friends get married and start having kids. I just graduated high school last year, so we're not quite at that stage yet, but I do have a couple of friends (3 on facebook, to be exact) who keep travelling places all the time.

Okay seriously I need a nickname for one of these people, as I have been seeing her more and more. TIME TO USE GOOGLE TRANSLATE TO FIND A WORD AND THEN ALTER IT SO IT SOUNDS GOOD ENOUGH TO USE.

Hmm, it seems I can actually use the name "clara" which is close to one that I think kind of fits. It is odd to think of calling this person clara, but hey, I have a friend on here whom I refer to as "vince" and I have gotten used to that.

So there's a girl whom I knew very well in ninth grade who's spent a whole year in Europe. I think she already had some friends over there to visit, though, which does make travelling easier. But she's been there for the whole entire year and now she's there for the summer with another girl from high school and they look like they are having such a blast and I AM SO JELLY. But swegan! you cry. You just went to Ireland! That's true, I did, and it was awesome, just like it was last year, plus this time we knew what we were doing. I'd go back to Ireland again any day, as conflicted as I am about their stance on abortion and as confused as I am by how the separation between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland works. All I know is that my parents told me to not wear orange while we were there, and I can't remember why, so I just didn't bring any orange clothing. Better to play it safe, I suppose, even if I might be totally wrong about this whole orange thing.

Anyway, there's another girl I sort of knew (well, I'm facebook friends with her, so I knew her well enough to add her) who's spent her entire year on a student exchange in Brazil. She hasn't posted quite as many photos, but she seems to be having the time of her life as well, and again, JELLY. SO JELLY. (Gah, I sound like ptarckas when I type WHAT IS HAPPENING TO ME MAKE IT STOP).

And then there's Clara, who went on a trip I think in high school with a tour company, and I think she's been on one or two more since then. They're very short trips but she got to go to Switzerland and JUST I WANT TO GO TO SWITZERLAND SO BADLY OH MY GOD, so yes, JELLY.

I feel like it is almost expected of me at this age that at some point I will travel to find myself. Or just travel to see the world. I think I already have a pretty good idea of who I am, and I've already been lots of places (something for which I consider myself insanely lucky). I do actually have a trip I'd like to do, and it's one my parents took us on before to visit old friends in Oregon they'd gone to school with. We stopped somewhere in BC for a wedding on our way over to Vancouver, then Victoria Island where we visited some friends (that is where I first learned the magic of guacamole on a sandwich). Then we took a ferry down into the states and drove through I think Olympia on our way down the coast. I can't remember where we stopped and stayed once we got into the states, just that we went down the Oregon coast and oh my stars, it was gorgeous. Somewhere along there, I learned how good clam chowder was, too, and then we got to Portland, which actually seems like a really cool city (and now that I hear more about it, very hipster-y, which I'm not sure is entirely good or bad). On the way back up we didn't go by the coast again, but we went through Spokane and did back-to-school shopping, since, as always, there are stores in the US with way better selection and jeans that actually fit me at the time, and I think it was cheaper because we didn't pay taxes (and it wasn't a pain like not paying taxes in Europe, where you have to fill out forms and stick receipts in envelopes and show your purchases at customs which is a pain since then you can't pack them in your suitcase like srsly Europe what the butt).

I'd change a few things about this trip. Firstly, I'd like it to take more than three weeks- not that that was a short time period, but that in order to do the trip I want I would need more time. I'd go down the Oregon coast again, the same way (stopping in Okanagan valley, maybe heading over to Victoria Island, etc) but this time I would stay longer, do more hikes, take more pictures, explore more (and eat more clam chowder, for the love of god). I don't know if I would visit Portland again, maybe. Whenever I think of Portland I just think of the cupcake place and the used bookstores (where I got a couple of books I have reread many times). That is Portland to me. After Oregon, I'd head into California, because in all honesty I actually do want to visit California. I really want to see the redwoods, Big Sur and Yosemite. And San Francisco, because that actually seems like a very cool city. I don't know how much farther south I'd want to go, nor how we'd get back from such a long trip. You can't drive the same way again, that is boring, but I fear that going inwards means hitting a bunch of desert and I can barely stand driving through Saskatchewan sometimes, so I don't know how I'd handle the desert. At least Saskatchewan sometimes has hills (and even trees!) when we drive through to Regina and Saskatoon and sometimes Moose Jaw (and eventually, Indian Head- which I thought more people would know about as a kid since it was plainly obvious to me as we went through there every time we visited my grandparents). Anyway, my point is that it would probably scare me and I'd worry about the car breaking down in the middle of nowhere and just... yeah. I have no great desire to visit anywhere that is a desert (is that where the word "deserted" comes from? Or is it the other way around?).

On that note, Saskatchewan is actually really pretty, for as much as I complain about driving through it. Sometimes it just gets so desolate, and there's no civilization for hours and hours and hours and oh my god, the one time my dad let me drive in Saskatchewan was the worst. There was a grain elevator in the distance, and I could see it, but it never seemed to be getting closer, and the sun was hot and the road was hazy and painfully straight and I just kept almost dozing off... driving there is hard. Like really, really hard. But then I remember my grandparent's 50th wedding anniversary and standing outside the old round barn just outside of Indian Head and watching the sun set, and let me tell you, there is nothing like a sunset in Saskatchewan. You can see everything. It's really beautiful.
My dad once said to me that he finds it sort of irritating the way people go on and on about the natural beauty of mountain wilderness and how it needs to be protected. "I think that they're right to protect it," he said, "but I happen to think the prairies are very beautiful and that they also need to be protected." (I'm paraphrasing, this was a long time ago). I've never forgotten that. My heart may be in the mountains, but my soul (if I have one, which is a discussion for another time) is on the prairies. I've always thought that that was the most succinct way of describing it.

anyway. I actually have a desire to travel now, which is really something. But for now, I'm just here, waiting for my lab job to begin (it was supposed to start Wednesday but then the lady who runs the lab (who is the one hiring me) is the only one who knows where she wants me to work and who I am working with and what I will be doing and she hasn't emailed me back. I don't know when to go in to start work. She did just get back from a trip, but that was (supposedly) on Tuesday night, and I've emailed her three times since then. Nothing. I don't want to just go in and sit around all day, but I really want to do something other than sit around and watch movies this summer. I'm starting to fear that this job will never materialize, that I will never hear back, not even if I go into the lab and sit there all day waiting for her to show up (which I really don't want to do but may have to resort to soon if I don't hear back). I feel very useless just sitting at home. I think if I don't hear from her by... well, probably by Monday or Tuesday, I'm going to have to just go sit in the lab all day. Bring a book or two, settle in, and wait. She has to show up eventually, and then I can find out if I still have this job or if something has come up and I'll be working in dad's office all summer). Sigh.

yer pal,

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

More abortion thoughts


I don't understand why some people think that a woman's decision to abort should involve a man at all. I mean, it's one thing if she wants to involve her husband/partner/whatever, but it's another thing completely to just assume that the guy in the relationship has any right. She doesn't owe him a child. He doesn't get to say "No, you're going to have this kid because THEY HAVE MY DNA THEY ARE MY CHILD" Like no, fuck off, you are not the one who has to deal with nine months of pregnancy and the process of giving birth-- not to mention all the myriad complications that occur during pregnancy, during childbirth, and even after pregnancy is over (post-partum depression is very, very real).

However, I think it is a very different thing entirely for a man (or a trans person, I guess, who is still biologically male, because that could theoretically happen) to say to their female partner whom they have gotten pregnant "Look I understand that this is a difficult choice for you to make" (like if they are unmarried, or in a tricky financial situation, or she just isn't sure if she wants to be pregnant) (you know come to think of it this could theoretically also happen with a trans person who is biologically female so pardon my usage of stereotypical pronouns) "but I will be here to support you through all of it." That isn't demanding or controlling. But this person must also accept that she may say no, I'm not ready for this, I don't want to, etc, any number of reasons.

Just because someone gets pregnant doesn't mean they owe that person the burden of carrying to term, delivering, and then likely raising some kid (and yeah, that's a burden- I can acknowledge that plenty of people may love their children while at the same time being exhausted by them). I know plenty of people out there are sooo against abortion, too, which would probably make it hard for them to read this post without seething with fury (hey, this isn't even a stereotype- when I read anti-choice things I seethe with rage, too) (it's just that my rage is in favour of giving living persons bodily autonomy and stuff sooo). To those people, I deliver this line, which is totally not mine but is quoted from a commenter on a piece I read the other day (I'm sorry, I can't remember which piece it was or who the commenter was so if it looks familiar can someone identify it pls thx): "You don't have the right to life if it involves using another person's body in a way they do not consent to." It's such a brilliant line, and it covers all topics and issues. If I am dying and need some super specific organ that is non-vital (i.e. someone could give one up without dying themselves) to save my life and nobody consented to donating, they would have no choice but to let me go. Which is sad to think about, and I'm sure that wouldn't be the case, but hey, this is the world of Theoretically.

Let's add that to the list of Things Women Don't Ever Owe You: your biological child. This also ties in with all those lovely social stereotypes of "oh, you'll want kids someday" and "your clock is ticking" and "so when are you having a kid/more kids" and "oh mothers just love having children and having children is a SOURCE OF PURE JOY TO WOMEN ALWAYS" (as suicide is the number one cause of death for mothers in the first year after children are born, which tops all medical reasons put together) (cough cough).

yer pal,

I do apologize for how disorganized this post is. I've been feeling a bit disorganized lately. Also, I do not have a citation for that statistic as it was given to me by word of mouth; however, that mouth belonged to an ob/gyn who has been ob/gyn-ing for many years now and thus seems like a fairly good authority on the matter to me. But I mean hey, if you want to NOT believe me, I'm not gonna stop you. Also if you HAVE a citation... y'know, it'd be appreciated. Or a citation that says otherwise. YOU GET THE POINT.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Being home is kind of depressing

Being home is quickly becoming me learning that nobody fucking agrees with me on anything remotely feminist. It is now me learning who will tolerate me discussing this (which so far is 2 people) and who makes me feel crazy, like I am overreacting, and like I am inventing problems that don't exist.

It is very exhausting to learn how far I have to go to argue effectively. It is very exhausting to learn that there are a surprisingly high number of people in my life who don't like what I have to say. It is very exhausting when I have all these things I want to say all the time about this topic I care about and I am quickly learning not to say them because arguing with other people is occupying too much of my time and I'm sick of it.

The thing nobody ever tells you about being a feminist is that there are going to be a lot of people in your life around whom you have to censor yourself because otherwise you'll just get drained and deflated. Nobody ever tells you that suddenly there's going to be a lot of people in your life that you once held very highly who drop a little because they lump you in with crazy extremists.

I have so many friends who I love talking to who give me looks when I say anything remotely feminist. I've stopped commenting on it while watching TV. I've stopped making comments about media in general. I've stopped correcting friends when they call someone a "slut." I've just stopped talking about feminism, basically, because it makes everything easier. Feminism just brings conflict into my life, and I hate that because it's something I'm really passionate about. But for the sake of keeping relationships, avoiding violence, and trying to appear sane and normal and well-adjusted, I've cut back severely. There are so many things I want to say on a daily basis and it's like I have tape over my mouth now.

It's all because I want to keep these friendships. They are important to me. Without them I wouldn't have very many people to rely on. I need to keep these people on my good side, and that means I can't discuss an issue I really care about with them anymore, because it is too hard and drives them away and makes me feel so isolated and alone.

Nobody really ever told me that I'd end up feeling so disconnected from everyone when I moved home more feminist than I've ever been. It's the worst sort of change from taking a Women's and Gender Studies course in university and for once getting to be around people who actually agreed with me and helped me learn more about things I care about.

I'm just so tired of arguing all the time. It's too exhausting. I can't do it anymore. And I hate being silent, but it is better than being alone.


When I say no, you say ok and walk away

I am tired of living in minor fear for being female. I am tired of being afraid of walking out to my car after dark to drive home in a neighbourhood with broken streetlights. I am tired of realizing I can't go outside once it gets dark out because I'm afraid of being followed, harrassed, or worse, assaulted. I'm tired of having to wait for the bus at university to take me 5 blocks at night because the 15 minute walk is too scary to take by myself. I'm tired of random guys on the bus continuing to talk to me when I'm very clearly on my phone and not interested. I'm tired of crossing the street a block down when I see a group of drunk men. I'm tired of not wanting to go back into bars to dance because of a guy that ogled me one time and made me feel like a piece of meat. I'm just really tired.

Someone on twitter said that people are using the #YesAllWomen to "talk about their feelings instead of mental health support and gun control." These aren't our feelings, these are our experiences. Plenty of women live in fear every day, and I am one of them. And I am expected to live in fear. My parents are afraid that because I believe in a world where I should be able to walk to safeway at 1 in the morning because of period cravings without fearing for my safety, that I will do so. Of course not. I hate that the world is this way, but until it changes, I feel like I must protect myself.

#YesAllWomen is so beautiful and great. It is about damn time feminism got into the mainstream. This isn't extremist, this isn't blaming men, this is saying "look, these are our problems, these are the things that are wrong, and everyone needs to know what they are so that we can fix them and fight them." This is awesome. This is the power of the internet. I love it. I love watching this trend, I love that it's popular. I love that this is the response to a violent misogynistic crime when the media says that this boy killed women because they didn't sleep with him.

I don't know how many times it bears repeating, but women do not owe men anything. We do not owe you our time, our attention, our smiles. We do not owe you "a chance", we do not owe you a date, we do not owe you sex, we do not owe you a yes. So when you ask somebody out and they say no, say ok and leave.

Look, I get it. Rejection sucks. It hurts. But people are going to reject you throughout your whole fucking life. People are going to say no. You have to learn to deal with it. And don't forget, people will accept you, too. And people rejecting you does not mean they deserve violence, hatred, or to die. Women saying no, I would not like to go on a date with you, means that they are not interested. Go home. Eat some ice cream, call your friends and get sympathy, take care of yourself.

And for all those crying "Men were murdered too!": I've come to understand that yes, they were, and that is horrible and tragic and sad. But the point is that this crime was specifically targeting women. The boy who killed these people posted very specific videos on youtube detailing exactly what he planned to do. It is very clear that he was targeting women because he felt that their rejection of him was an offense harsh enough to mean the end of their lives. He was raised in a culture where men grow up learning that they are entitled to women's bodies, to sex, to a "yes."

Do not tell me it is not all men that are this way. Of course it isn't. Nobody is saying that it is. That's the point of the hashtag- that while it's not all men that are horrible misogynists, it is all women who are affected by it.

My condolences to those who were affected by this tragedy at UCSB.


Sunday, May 4, 2014

Stressful dreams

Well, first I broke my knee, but then later it was my elbow for some reason. I snapped a tendon in it, and when they fixed it, my arm automatically snapped straight more than it bent. It was bizarre. And that was stressful, but then suddenly I was in the midst of some kind of post-apocalyptic war, and I was on the wrong side of it, because there were people invading my house and I had to hide. We were going to run and so I had gone to look for some suitable shoes in a slightly altered version of my mom's closet. Then, for some reason, I knew they were coming in there to look for me, so I had to hide. That was stressful enough, because I knew if they found me, they'd kill me.

I frequently have recurring dreams like this, where I have to find a good hiding spot and sit there and worry about whether or not the people in my house who for some reason are trying to hunt me down are going to find me. It really stresses me out, like I'll wake up with my stomach in knots and feeling full of needles, you know that feeling? It's horrible

Later in the dream, I was in a piano competition but realized that I didn't know my part of the songs and I would make my partners lose. It was horrible, trying to make chords based on what they were playing. Afterwards for some reason we were at some border and a bunch of people joined us, including Ptarckas for a brief moment. I asked him to say something in Hungarian, and then he did. He also said something in Russian for some reason. Then later he wasn't there and I was with I think Vince and an old childhood friend and some other girls and we were above the highway on these concrete things and suddenly one girl slipped and fell a little ways and got knocked unconscious. So then suddenly the highway was a river and we somehow managed to get her onto this floating dock thing most of the way across, but for some reason we couldn't get her the rest of the way. I had seen a sign that said we were near Red Deer (I have no idea how) and so I knew if we could just get her to shore and find a phone I could call an ambulance. There was a guy on shore with a bunch of dogs, like all swimming and laying in the sun. I swam to shore and asked if any of them were rescue dogs, but he said no (I guess I was looking for a newfie). He went to go ask some other people (he appeared to be camping, he was wearing a really ugly too-small shirt over his large belly and also swim trunks and sandals as he barbecued on the beach wearing sunglasses and a hat and drinking beer) but then when I looked back everyone else on the floating dock had discovered one of those pool floaty things and floated the unconscious girl across the river. I said "nevermind" and we ran inland and found some weird milkshake shack thing that was really beachy-looking and then we got thrown in a back room with a phone and one of the girls who ran the stand dialed the police really fast and then hung up and then said "look, if I press 237, it automatically connects me to the last number, so don't try ANYTHING." somehow I managed to convince her that I just needed to phone the police, but when I tried dialing 911, it asked where I wanted the bomb dropped. I clicked some "no" button on the phone but for some reason it just kept moving through this process of bomb-dropping so I hung up. Then the girl who was unconscious was conscious, but she was moving really slowly, and for a second I got a glimpse in her head, and everything was spinning and her heart was beating really slowly, and there was something about the number 7 that I remember. She was drinking cups of toffee the girls at the milkshake stand had given her, and when I was asking them what it was my asthma started getting really bad so I asked for some coffee because I heard once that that helps. Then my next idea was to use the phone to call mom and ask her to call the ambulance because I was pretty sure I now needed one because I was on the verge of an asthma attack. But I kept getting the number 3 confused with 7 and then FINALLY, I woke up.

For a brief moment, I was actually really wheezy, but that faded. I was also really sweaty, no doubt from the stress. I really, really hate dreams like the first one there, where I have to run and hide. I'm always worried my hiding spot isn't good enough and if it isn't then I'm basically screwed because I'm cramped up in some tiny little corner and can't move to run. Perhaps joining the hide-and-seek club at uni isn't the best idea in the world. Despite how much fun it looks like, I'm really competitive and no doubt I would go into that weird kind of panic-mode the longer I sat. That panic-mode even used to happen with Freckles: we'd be running around and I'd try and stay away, and then suddenly the idea that she might catch up to me and get her hands on me was absolutely terrifying. Then she would, and the terror would immediately pass. I know Freckles got this way, too, she told me once and exhibited the same responses I did when I was chasing her.

That's often another feature of those dreams: I'm being chased, so not only do I have to find a hiding spot, I have to find one NOW and FAST and that's really stressful when there's people with guns coming after me.

Anyway. I'm awake now and nothing like that will happen to me. *deep breaths* Also, my elbow isn't broken and I'm not having an asthma attack. Woo!

yer pal,
swegan :S